In 2020 my word of the year was pursue. I spent time focusing on pursuing God more intentionally which included revisiting different Bible study and prayer disciplines I’d previously incorporated into my quiet times. One of those was the practice of adoration.
Growing up in the church you learn a lot of catchy phrases that become a kind of shorthand language of their own but don’t make a lot of sense to people outside of the church. Additionally, because the lingo seems familiar to everyone around you, many times it can feel intimidating to ask for clarification if you don’t understand a phrase. This is particularly challenging if you perceive that others around have a better understanding of a concept than you do.
One of those phrases that churches use is the ACTS prayer:
Adoration: Praise God for who he is or for his character
Confession: Tell God about your personal sin and corporate sin, ask for forgiveness
Thanksgiving: Thank God for how he is present in our lives, what he has done and what he will do
Supplication: Dialogue with God, ask for clarification and guidance about situations, pray about needs, wants, fears, joys.
The ACTS prayer is a catchy way to make sure that we have an order to our conversations with God, but this isn’t a requirement for prayer. Growing up I found this structure helpful, but I didn’t fully understand the difference between Adoration and Thanksgiving.
Dictionary.com defines Adoration as worship; veneration and Thanksgiving as the expression of gratitude, especially to God. While this distinguishes the words, it’s still easy to start out worshipping God and shift to expressions of gratitude unless there is an intentional choice to keep these segments separate.
Thankfully Sara Hagerty has taken the time to clarify Adoration in detail. She also has a monthly adoration plan you can follow to help put this important prayer discipline into practice.
The Discipline of Adoration
Life is hard and often feels deeply unfair. In recent years documentation of depression is on the rise as well as teen suicide. There is no doubt that people are outrageously crueler to each other with the ability to hide behind fake identities. Bolstered by the example of poor leadership that is justified by those who call themselves moral, for many there doesn’t seem to be a safe place to turn for help.
But God is always available to comfort his children. He loves to reveal his character to us when we ask, and he is unchanging so we can always trust him. Adoration reminds us God is our comforter. Consider Psalms 23.
Psalm 23 (NIV)
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.Psalm 23:1-6
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
I mentioned Sara Hagerty has a monthly guide. I’ve also found the book Adoration Prayer Book by Bob Hartley very helpful. Hartley says “Adoration is the pattern we see in heaven! The Lord is surrounded by worship and adoration continually throughout all of eternity.”
If you haven’t included adoration in your journaling or prayer times maybe this is the month to give it a try!
Looking for a new Bible Study?
As Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), we’re all called to “make disciples of all nations” wherever we live. God invites us to partner with him and live on mission every day, even in the mundane moments of life. We do this when we love people as Jesus taught the disciples to do, without stipulations.
Embracing Holy Interruptions: How Jesus Used Mundane Moments to Love People Deeply is a six-week Bible study that teaches people how to develop a disciple-making movement.
This is not a step-by-step instruction manual.
Jesus modeled using mundane moments to love people, build tension, and point them to God in a way that caused many of them to step from a curiosity about God to a fully surrendered faith. We can adapt his methods and learn from the examples in the Gospels today. This study aims to help people keep their eyes on Jesus and improve their inductive Bible reading skills while also learning to love their neighbors to the best of their ability.
This 6-week study is available in both print and Kindle formats.